THE Weather Bureau has warned we have reached El Niño alert level with the tropical Pacific Ocean warming steadily in recent months.
The Bureau says large warm anomalies in the ocean sub-surface and increasingly warm sea surface temperatures have been detected, with climate models indicating that the likelihood of an El Niño event developing remains around 70 per cent.
Current data has an El Niño developing by spring, but some models indicate the dry weather pattern could arrive as early as July.
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El Niño is usually associated with below average rainfall over southern and eastern inland Australia.
Around two thirds of El Niño events since 1900 have resulted in major drought over large parts of the continent.
The Bureau released their report on the current state of the Pacific and Indian Ocean on Tuesday.